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PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

August 05, 2013 11:11 IST

PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

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A statement on Aamir Liaquat Hussain's website exhorts poor families to hand over babies to the preacher so they can be given away on his show.

A controversial Pakistani preacher is preparing to give away a third baby to a childless couple on his religious TV show, ignoring criticism that he resorted to the practice to boost the ratings of his programme.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain, 41, anchors ‘Aman Ramzan’, a 12-hour show beamed live from Karachi on Geo network during the holy month of Ramzan, during which prizes like mobile phones and motorcycles are given away to audience members who answer easy questions about Islam.

A few weeks ago, he stunned the audience by saying a baby would be given to a couple that was childless for 14 years.

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Image: Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel programme 'Amaan Ramazan', puts a snake around a child's shoulders during a live show in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

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A baby girl picked from a garbage heap by the NGO Chhipa Welfare Organisation was brought to the show, wrapped in pink, by Muhammad Ramzan Chhipa, chief of the organisation, and Hussain handed over the child to an emotional woman.

"Promise that you will take care of the child like a real mother," he told the woman. Another infant girl was given away during a live show last month.

The live coverage of the handing over of the babies created a storm and Hussain's critics described it as an unethical move to improve ratings in the highly competitive Ramzan market.

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Image: A childless couple kisses their newly adopted daughter, Fatima, whom Pakistani television talk show host Aamir Liaquat Hussain gave them on his show, as they sit at the Chhipa Welfare Association office in Karachi
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

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Undeterred by such criticism, the management of Hussain's show has announced he will offer a third child -- a baby boy -- for adoption to a "deserving couple".

A statement on Hussain's website even exhorts poor families to hand over babies to the preacher so that they can be given away on his show.

"We are not giving infants to winners of a quiz programme as has been portrayed by the international media. Chhipa (organisation) screens the aspiring parents and they decide to give them the children after detailed interviews," an official of the programme said.

"We want to promote the culture of adoption in a country where there is no law for it," the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to media.

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Image: Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel programme "Amaan Ramazan", hosts a live show in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

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But critics are unmoved by such explanations and describe the trend as an immoral and crude attempt to make business out of piety.

"It is not good. If you want to hand over children for adoption, then you should do it silently, without making a show of it," said Anwar Kazmi of the Edhi Foundation, which has been working on adoption for over six decades.

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Image: Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel programme "Amaan Ramazan", gestures during a live show in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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PHOTOS: Pak preacher's TV show has baby as giveaway

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"By exposing the kids to live coverage, you are creating doubts about their parentage and leaving them at the mercy of people who will taunt them when they are grown up," Kazmi said.

Many Pakistanis have taken to Twitter and social media to express their concern and even disgust at the handing out of babies by Hussain, who has been linked to several controversies in the past.

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Image: Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the Geo TV channel programme "Amaan Ramazan", talks to children who are fasting for Ramadan for the first time, during a live show in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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In 2008, hardline scholars who appeared on Hussain's TV show called for the killing of Ahmadis, a minority sect declared non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment. By the next day, two Ahmadis were shot dead.

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Image: Childless couples sit with newly adopted babies, Fatima (L) and Zainab (R), whom Pakistani television talk show host Aamir Liaquat Hussain gave away on his show, as they pose for photographs at the Chhipa Welfare Association office in Karachi
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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Subsequently, authorities declared Hussain's university degree a fake and a video showing him cracking ribald jokes, singing Bollywood tunes and making fun of callers to his show during commercial breaks was posted on YouTube. 


Image: Aamir Liaquat Hussain waves a microphone while asking participants questions during a live show in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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